Apprenticeship Ambassadors

 

Local Apprentices who champion and support marketing, publicity and events to raise awareness of apprenticeships.  Would you like to become an Ambassador for Apprenticeships and maybe visit your local school, often with your own apprentice/s, to talk to the students and share your experiences?  Or are you interested in attending events to promote apprenticeships? Or would you like to complete a case study which can be used in marketing and publicity?

Then please email Kim@wtpa.org.uk who will be able to help you with this or any other areas where you would like to help in raising the profile of Apprenticeships.

 

 

Pippa Dressler-Pearson – Apprentice of the Year 2016 – Southco LTD

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I went to High School in Hereford where I completed my GCSE’s.  Upon leaving school I decided I wanted to give Sixth Form a try.  I chose to do A Levels in Mathematics, German, Business Studies, and Physics. After my first year I found that Physics wasn’t for me so I dropped the subject and continued with the others.

During college our tutors wanted us to start the university application process.  We also had meetings with our careers adviser to explore other pathways.  I didn’t really want to go to university because I didn’t think my grades would be good enough and I wasn’t keen on paying the higher university fees.  After a meeting with my careers adviser I decided to see what apprenticeships were about and maybe apply to some training providers.  I went home and spoke with mum and dad.  Luckily they were very supportive, and that helped me make the decision in applying to the local Training Provider – Hereford & Worcester Group Training Association (H/WGTA).

I applied and was successfully offered an apprenticeship with a manufacturer in Malvern – Dytecna Ltd.  I started my four year engineering apprenticeship in September 2012.  I spent my first year with H/WGTA, where I completed my NVQ Level 2 in Mechanical Engineering.  At the same time, I attended college one day per week studying a BTEC National Diploma in Engineering Manufacturing.

Fast forward a few years, I was made redundant from Dytecna because the company went into administration. I found that Southco Ltd in Worcester were offering apprenticeships, and fortunately they offered me a place to continue my apprenticeship and finish it. During this time I finished my BTEC level 3, a Foundation Degree and an NVQ Level 3.

My role at Southco is design engineering apprentice. We manufacture Access Hardware. This is anything from the glove box latch in your car, the security lock in a data storage cabinet, plus much more. My role includes the modification of these products. A customer can come to us with a requirement for a different colour, or head style, of latch. This is the type of project that I design and manage. I also help with any technical support queries customers and colleagues may have. It often takes a vast amount of product knowledge to answer these questions, and this is something I am getting better at, the more I do.

I also found when  first starting to use the systems and software that Southco use it wasn’t easy to pick it up quickly. I decided that it would be helpful for future apprentices and new-starters if they had a guide book that they could use for quick, easy steps to help them through their first weeks on the job. So I created a guide book which was published on our internal database.

Over the course of the next 12 months it is my intention to help you in understanding what apprenticeships are about, the events that you can get involved with, and the types of companies in Worcestershire that offer apprenticeships in all industries. I would like to broaden your choice of pathway so that when you come to finishing school, college, or if you just want to start in a new industry, you feel you are informed in deciding on where your pathway will take you next.

The future looks bright for apprentices across all industries.  I think that anyone can do an apprenticeship, whether you actually enjoy studying, or whether you don’t enjoy studying, an apprenticeship works both ways.  It is important to think of an apprenticeship as a stepping stone to help push you forward.  You won’t be an apprentice forever, but when you come out of the other side, you will really feel you have achieved so much.

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 Lauren Baker – Green Lighting Ltd

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I went to school in Kidderminster at King Charles I School & Sixth Form, this is where I decided to stay on to complete my A Levels. I chose to do A Levels in English Language and Literature, Economics, ICT and Sociology. After my first months I found that Sociology wasn’t for me so I dropped the subject and continued with the others. During sixth form our teachers wanted us to start the university application process. We also had meetings with our careers adviser to explore other pathways. After a meeting with my careers adviser I decided to see what apprenticeships were about and maybe apply to some training providers.

Fortunately for me I was able to take advantage of the apprenticeship programme through Heart of Worcestershire College after I took my A levels. I knew that I did not want to stay in education and take the traditional university route.  I wanted a career and to be a successful business woman, I had the grades to gain a degree but I did not see this as the best path for me. I did not see the apprentice route as second best I saw it as the fasted and most appropriate method for me to gain experience, credence and knowledge in business.

The biggest impact I found with this type of learning was how much I enjoyed putting the theory straight into practice and vice versa. To have this opportunity has meant that my skills set for my age in our business is unique, I am able to converse technically with a variety of customers and colleagues. Since commencing my apprenticeship my self-belief and confidence has grown and I feel able to show initiative in the business environment. I have had to develop my team player skills, yet be capable of working independently and effectively prioritise multiple concurrent projects. Starting with the level 3 apprenticeship and progressing on to the level 4 has enabled me to enjoy learning again and reawaken my desire to get a degree and I feel proud that I making an impact in my role within the business.

I love my job and want to keep progressing in the company. The apprenticeship programme has opened up a whole new way of life for me, I am earning a good salary for someone my age and am able to realise my potential to increase this through training and education.

My journey is testament that higher education is possible to achieve and that there is a tangible alternative to going to university to gain a degree. I believe passionately in apprenticeships as the future for training Britain’s workforce and want to continue to vocalise this as an ambassador nationally .I believe strongly in the mentoring system we have in place within my company and would like to see it adopted for all apprentices. I act as a mentor for any new staff who join the company and those more established colleagues who are returning to learning.

Throughout the apprenticeship programme I have also had many opportunities to meet other like-minded apprentices with the drive to succeed. I am a member of the West Midlands Apprentice Ambassador Network which enables me go out and meet new people and also go out and meet apprentices of the future. I have also been lucky enough to be put forward by my company for the National Apprentice Awards 2016, where I stand Highly Commended Regionally of which I am immensely proud!

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George Harris – Warwickshire & West Mercia Police

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After finishing school in Year 11 the natural next step was to go onto Sixth Form. I was never 100% sure on what I wanted to do when I was ‘older’ and had much admiration for those that were confident they wanted to go to University to study Maths, Geography or Medicine.

I was still not sure, so I followed everyone else and signed up to UCAS to start looking at possible University options. Trips around the country followed, where I visited UWE, Oxford Brookes, Bath Spa and Surrey. All of them appeared interesting; however I found it difficult to see myself at any of them. None of them really persuaded me that I was on the right path.

Feeling quite deflated, I prepared and submitted my UCAS application with no real desire to go to any of my chosen Universities. I selected my particular course (Business Management) because it offered a year in industry. This excited me as it was a chance to practice what I was learning in a real work environment, while still getting paid…..

…..I’m sure you know where this is going.

Then it hit me, I could do a ‘year in industry’ every year without having to move away from home and having to pay high tuition fees. I finally opened my eyes to the idea of an Apprenticeship, with its straight forward earn and learn philosophy; I knew it would be perfect for me.

The next challenge was to find the right Apprenticeship. I was in an area I knew nothing about so chose to seek out the help of the teachers and tutors at the Sixth Form. A visit from Worcestershire Apprenticeships helped significantly. They directed me in particular to the Government Apprenticeships website, but vacancies were limited as it was early January. I searched everyday as well as doing mail-outs to local businesses. This comprised of emailing my CV to businesses I found on Google Maps which fitted the business environment I was looking for.

In the meantime my University application was whirring away and I started to receive conditional offers. This had the opposite effect than I thought. Rather than studying the university more closely to see which one would suit me best, I persevered with searching for the right Apprenticeship. Receiving these offers just made me want to do something different even more.

Surprisingly, those around me who appeared confident that university was the best thing ever started to wane, and many people reconsidered their options or deferred their place for a year. They had not discovered the idea of Apprenticeships as I had, so stuck to the more conventional gap year alternative to a University approach.

I did not stop in my quest to find the best apprenticeship for me, and while on holiday I found one at Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police, based in Worcester. After picking up my A-level results in the morning, I dashed to get changed and off I went for my interview in the afternoon. Now there was no turning back.

I was successful in the interview and secured a position within the Human Resources team, completing an NVQ Level 3 Business Administration Apprenticeship. Having now been working for 5 months, I can put my hand on heart and say it was the right decision to put mind over matter and not follow my friends to University because it was the ‘cool’ or the only option.

I complete the same tasks as my colleagues, ranging from scheduling and coordinating interviews, taking DNA and fingerprint samples and placing job adverts online. None of these amazing opportunities and activities would be open to me at my age of 18, if I had gone to University.

My advice to students in Year 11, 12 or even 13 is to not follow everyone else because it’s the easy option. Following your instincts will lead to the right option, with perseverance and the right advice.

Becoming an Apprentice is a stepping stone to a fantastic career in your chosen industry and can really open your eyes to the wider world of work.

I am now actively encouraging Apprenticeships, particular for the Police Force as I believe so passionately about the hidden opportunities they possess.

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Victoria Rawlings – TRS Claims

 

img_7519From staying on at Evesham High School Sixth Form, now DMS, I was excited to be accepted by the University of Wales Institute to study Sports Conditioning, Rehabilitation and Massage and have that much needed independence. After 2 years at university, I realised I didn’t want to pursue a career in this field and much preferred my part time job within Promotion and Sales.

I made the difficult decision to leave my life in Cardiff behind with no idea what to do but felt I needed to start my career as I’m quite ambitious and felt disappointed to not finish my degree. Looking at my part time role whilst at university, I decided on a marketing role. Given my lack of experience and my drive to continue to learn, I began looking into apprenticeships in Worcestershire as I wanted to continue my education but have a career at the same time.

Now nearly reaching 3 years experience within the insurance industry I have successfully acquired Higher Level Apprentice of the Year & Worcestershire Apprenticeship of the Year 2015, finalist for Young Woman in Business and Rising Star for The Claims Awards. Within 4 months this year, I have gained 3 new contracts for the company bringing in a gross profit of £9.5m and will double the workforce for the company, some of which will of course include apprentices!

My apprenticeship ambassador role has not finished will me continuing my work with Worcestershire Apprenticeships and joining West Midlands Young Apprenticeship Ambassador Network. This is due to give back to a scheme that has given me so much! I would highly recommend this route to anyone who has the desire to earn whilst you learn.

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 Alex Tyrer – Sanctuary Group

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I completed my GCSE’s at Nunnery Wood High School in Worcester. Towards the end of my school life I began to worry about what my next step would be, Worcester Sixth Form College was one option as I had secured a place there, but I wanted to explore other opportunities before making a final decision. I had heard great things about apprenticeship opportunities through HWGTA (Hereford & Worcester Group Training Association) so I decided to apply for a finance apprenticeship, as that was the area I had most interest in.

HWGTA then arranged an interview for me with Sanctuary Group which resulted in them offering me a place on their apprenticeship scheme. Although I believed an apprenticeship would be a great opportunity, I was unsure as to whether finance was definitely the career for me. After a great deal of consideration I decided at that time It would be best for me to attend the Sixth Form College and study subjects related to finance, such as Accounting, Economics and Business Studies.

When I informed Sanctuary about my decision they were very supportive and encouraged me to consider applying again in the future.

After spending 3 years studying at Worcester Sixth Form College I had secured high grades in Accounting and Business Studies and it then became clear that finance would be my career choice. Because of the grades I achieved a lot of my friends and tutors encouraged me to apply to go to university to continue my studies in finance. By this time I had already made up my mind that the apprenticeship route would be my next step. Many of my friends didn’t understand why I didn’t want to go to university and tried to convince me to go, but I was sold on the idea of gaining valuable experience of the workplace while also gaining another professional qualification, that the apprenticeship could offer me.

So I applied for an apprenticeship through HWGTA and again was invited for an interview at Sanctuary Group. When I attended my interview I noticed that the size of the site had almost doubled and there was now more buildings with more office space than there was 3 years ago. In 3 years the company had grown and developed so much. During the interview I was told more about the apprenticeship programme than I was previously and the more I heard, the more confident I became that I made the right choice in going down this route. After the interview I reflected on the progress Sanctuary had made in 3 years and I started to believe that Sanctuary and an apprenticeship would be perfect for me to continue my own development, maybe I could achieve similar things in 3 years as an apprentice.

A few days later I received a call from HWGTA informing me that Sanctuary would like to offer me place to do the finance apprenticeship and that my start date would be 29th July 2013. I guess this was a pivotal moment in my work life. I had just secured my first job! I was excited and anxious about the opportunity as I had no experience of a work environment. However I was assured to find that 2 weeks into my apprenticeship HWGTA would give us an induction week, where we would receive training sessions on various skills required in the work place. These sessions would include telephone skills, communication skills, customer service skills, presentation skills and team building exercises. These are all vital skills that are required for a successful career.

Over my 3 years on the apprenticeship programme, not only have I completed my studies to become AAT qualified, I also completed a Level 4 Diploma in business skills through HWGTA. As part of the apprenticeship programme I was given the opportunity to spend time in various areas of the business which has allowed me to develop my skills and knowledge of both finance and Sanctuary. I started in the Income team before moving to Accounts Payable, Development Finance and finally Capital Accounting where I now have a permanent position.

On top of the work placements, I have also had opportunities to get involved with lots of activities with other apprentices, such as team building work shops and meeting directors. I also created an apprentice welcome pack for the new intake of apprentices in order to help them settle into their roles. Off the back of this I delivered a presentation to them with a fellow apprentice so they could learn more about the apprenticeship programme and we could share our experiences with them. Sanctuary has been very supportive of the development of apprentices and decided to arrange a CV writing and interview skills session for apprentices that would soon be completing the programme, to prepare them for the job application process. Sanctuary has also given me the opportunity to gain Interview experience by allowing me to interview for new apprentices. Sanctuary often produces promotional material such as videos, to promote their apprenticeship programme, and I was lucky enough to get involved in the creation of a recent video where we encourage people to apply for an apprenticeship.

I have also been encouraged to apply for Sanctuary’s employee volunteering scheme which is open to all staff. Through this scheme I spent 2 days at Fort Royal Primary School for disadvantaged children. I felt I made a big difference to one particular child over the 2 days and received great feedback from the teacher. The teacher told me that it was clear to see the influence I had on the child’s attitude which was extremely rewarding. The volunteer placement also developed my communication skills as some children had difficulty communicating. This is a valuable skill in the work place and I am thankful to both Sanctuary and the school for allowing me the opportunity to get involved in the community while also developing skills I can use in the work place.

Throughout my apprenticeship I have worked very hard to develop myself and others and during 2016 I was chosen as Sanctuary’s nomination for the Worcestershire’s Higher Level Apprentice of the year. In November 2016 attended the Worcestershire Apprenticeship Awards and was named winner of The Higher Level Apprentice of the year. I was overwhelmed by all the support I had received from Sanctuary, HWGTA and my fellow apprentices. They all played a big part in my development and ultimately achieving this great success. I am very thankful to them and would not have been able to achieve this without their support.

During my 3 years as an apprentice I learnt a great deal, not only about finance or Sanctuary, but about myself and what I want to achieve in the future. I have found that I enjoy helping others and celebrating their successes. I am now the level 2 apprentice coordinator at Sanctuary and am responsible for overseeing their journey on the apprenticeship scheme. I hope to be able to celebrate their success with them in the years to come!

I look back over the past 3 years and I consider myself to have progressed and developed more than I could have imagined. That is down to the apprenticeship and the support I received through out. My aim is to now inspire others, who like me, may be anxious about starting work, to follow in my footsteps and work hard to develop themselves and other around them. An apprenticeship really is the first step towards a career and if you work hard enough, it is amazing what can be achieved.

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Faisal Zaib – Sanctuary Group

 

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I went to a Worcester High School, Blessed Edward Oldcorne where I completed my GCSE’s. When I left school, I was unsure what I wanted to do and my parents were steering me towards university and ultimately completing a degree. I decided to go to Worcester Sixth Form College and chose to do a BTEC National Diploma in Business and A-Level Sociology where I obtained Triple Distinction (equivalent to 3 A’s at A-level) and a C in Sociology.

Because of my results this secured me a place at the University of Worcester to study Business Management. However I was having many doubts in my head whether I actually wanted to go to university as numerous factors were really deterring me away from it such as the increased tuition fees, did I even want to study business management? 3 more years of full time studying with no job guarantee?
For these reasons I spoke with the university and decided to take a “gap year” during which time I ended up travelling to parts of South East Asia (Kashmir).

When I returned from travelling, I decided to look for alternative avenues other than university and this is when I came across HWGTA (Hereford & Worcester Group Training Association). They gave me an insight into all the different types of apprenticeships they had to offer and for me, the most appealing was the finance apprenticeship as I was always good with numbers and even did tremendously well in the accountancy unit in my National Diploma in Business. I decided to hand HWGTA my CV and then they called me in for an “assessment day”

Then came the moment when my life really changed (as I still wasn’t 100% convinced whether I wanted to go to university or do an apprenticeship). I was called into Sanctuary group for an interview and here I met with a lead finance officer who was also an apprentice mentor. Still to this day, she is one of my biggest inspirations as she told me all about the apprenticeship programme here at Sanctuary and I was sold! After a day or two I got a call from HWGTA to be told that Sanctuary Group had offered me a place to do the finance apprenticeship there, I was ecstatic and straight away accepted the offer.

So now 3 years on since joining Sanctuary Group in 2013, I have not only had the unique experiences of working in different areas across finance such as the Rents, Sundry Debt, income and Accounts Payable team (because the nature of my apprenticeship allowed me to rotate departments every 6 months) but I have even completed all 3 levels of my apprenticeship, and I am now AAT qualified. On top of this qualification I got the opportunity to do a Level 4 Diploma in business skills through HWGTA which I have recently completed and submitted. I have also secured a full time role as a Development Finance Administrator in the Development Finance Team at Sanctuary Group. Whilst securing the new role I have decided that I want to now progress my accounting studies and I have a business case which is being supported and submitted by the Finance Director in order for me to secure funding for the CIMA qualification, this will give me a chance to become a Chartered Accountant whilst still working at Sanctuary.

On top of my academic achievements I have also developed my own personal skills since starting my apprenticeship, as I have become a more self-assured and confident person. It is through the apprenticeship that I realised that I love public speaking. Using this new skill, I am now regular promoter of both Sanctuary’s placements and the programme delivered by HWTGA at careers fairs and special events. And have recently joined the West Midlands Young Apprentice Ambassador Network on behalf of Sanctuary Group. I have also helped local MP Robin Walker to advocate apprenticeships locally and in doing so was asked to attend Worcester Sixth Form College to talk about my experiences and promote apprenticeships as a fantastic combination of gaining skills, experience and developing as a person – something I don’t believe you get anywhere else. To thank me for my work on this I received a personal letter from Sanctuary’s CEO which was really rewarding.

My apprenticeship has made me realise that I have a lot to give both in work and in the community. Sanctuary offers volunteer placements and my first placement was at New Hope, a local community centre where children with disabilities can play whilst their carers take a break. After my first visit, the staff and children wanted me to come back so much that they contacted Sanctuary directly and I now visit whenever I can during breaks from work and college.
I have worked hard every day within the various teams I have had the pleasure to work in; helping to achieve Sanctuary’s goals and improve the service we deliver. I enjoy working with others and also independently and leading on projects. HWGTA recognised my on-going dedication to both my role and my studies by awarding me the ‘Excellence in Accountancy’ award in 2015.

I believe that others can learn from my experience because although I planned to get a university degree, I’ve had so much more from my apprenticeship. I have my whole career planned out as a result of the apprenticeship pathway. My experiences have made me a more driven person who proves you can grow and succeed through an apprenticeship.

Over the last 3 years I have developed my own skills and experience through apprenticeships and I am driven to inspire others to do the same. I have been involved in many projects and activities to promote apprenticeships including attending career fairs, discussion groups encouraging local businesses to take on apprentices, as well as giving talks to students at colleges. I also suggested and now coordinate the AAT buddy system for Sanctuary Groups apprentices; this is proving to be an invaluable support network especially for new apprentices that join the company.

I’ve been lucky enough to meet many apprentices across all types of industries and I have to say the future looks bright for apprentices. I truly believe that anyone can do an apprenticeship, whether they actually enjoy studying or even if they don’t, an apprenticeship works both ways. It is important to think of an apprenticeship as a stepping stone to help push individuals forward. The way I always tell them is you won’t be an apprentice forever, but when you come out of the other side, you will really feel you have achieved and learnt so much. You get to gain relevant qualifications, whilst getting valuable work experience and at the end of it being debt free, how can anyone say no?

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